Stevens Athletics competes in Division III of the NCAA, but at least one team regularly takes on opponents from Division I and Division II. That team is Stevens Triathlon, a club team made up of 16 fit co-eds who compete in multi-stage distance competitions of swimming, bicycling and running legs against much larger universities such as Rutgers, Northeastern, Syracuse and Penn State.
The team of nine men and seven women kicked of the 2012-2013 season this month – its seventh season in history – with its first of five Olympic distance and Sprint distance races. Stevens placed fourth among men and fifth among women in the Park City Triathlon in Bridgeport, CT on Aug. 26.
Stevens hopes to remain a top competitor in the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference (NECTC), where the team has finished second out of 21 opponents for the past two years.
“We expect to remain a strong presence in our conference,” said Luke Niezelski ’14, team president.
Last season almost ended in disappointment when four Stevens triathletes suffered flat tires during the bicycling portion of the NECTC championship. But despite their bad luck, Stevens still placed second as a team.
This season, Stevens will have to overcome a different kind of adversity. Its two best triathletes – Nick Walulik and Amanda Nauman – graduated in 2012. However, a group of strong beginners have joined the roster.
“They should help us fill the void,” said Niezelski.
Stevens Triathlon also has a long history of success to build on which should help them in the long run.
“We’ve had people go to Nationals every season and we’ve been the top Division III team at Nationals for the past two seasons,” said Niezelski.
The team’s success could come from its strenuous training regimen. Stevens has one 1-2 hour team practice every day, plus a solo practice in which triathletes train on their own time.
“Practices aren’t mandatory but almost everyone always shows up,” Niezelski said.
However the team finishes, Stevens triathletes gain a lot from competing in their sport. Most of the roster is former swimmers, cross country or track athletes who became burned out with their sports.
"Triathlons let us still be active without having to go through the grind that our perspective sports have turned into,” Niezelski said.
Learn more about Stevens Triathlon at http://www.stevensducks.com/club_sports/triathlon/index.asp.